Here we go! The 2021 Kentucky Derby season kicks off Friday at Aqueduct with the running of the $150,000 Jerome Stakes. The race drew a field of five entries all needing to prove themselves. The quest toward the ultimate prize begins in race eight and has a local post time of 3:50 PM ET.

The Brad Cox-trained Swill leads the charge and will break from post 2 with the red-hot Kendrick Carmouche aboard. He broke his maiden at Churchill Downs going 7 furlongs before finishing fourth last time out in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).

Eagle Orb, winner in 2 of his 5 starts, presents the local challenge. The New York-bred has competed in 4 straight state-restricted stakes (including winning the Notebook Stakes last time out) after breaking his maiden on debut. He was second in the Sleepy Hollow Stakes to Brooklyn Strong, who won the Remsen Stakes (G2) in his next start. Eagle Orb will break from post 4 with Manny Franco up.

The up-and0coming Original will try stakes company for the first time after breaking his maiden on the local turf last time out. He debuted on the dirt 2 starts back but was a disappointing eighth. Jockey Jose Lezcano will have the mount in this contest, breaking from post 5. 

The full field from the rail out: Capo Cane, Swill, Hold the Salsa, Eagle Orb, and Original. 

Top Choice

#2 Swill – This field leaves a lot to be desired, so this should be a great opportunity for this colt to shine. He looked sharp breaking his maiden before finishing a decent fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2). The slight distance cut back should be to his benefit and his early turn of foot is a good fit with jockey Kendrick Carmouche. Bottom line: he should be talented enough to beat this group. 

Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers

#5 Original – I’m really interested in this horse moving back to the dirt. His debut race was absolutely loaded with talent and Original had a troubled start. He could be sneaky here if he gets an outside stalking trip. 

Exotic Plays

#4 Eagle Orb – If this race was run at 6 furlongs, then he would be the one to beat. He won at that distance over this surface last time out and seems to run solid speed figures when sprinting. Stretching out in distance is a little questionable, but he at least finished second to Brooklyn Strong at this distance 2 starts back. 

Party Crashers 

#1 Capo Cane – He seems to have some upside after breaking his maiden nicely at Parx last time out. The move up to the NYRA circuit is usually tough to make, but this year’s field is below average. He possesses enough early speed to make things interesting and should be well-suited for this one-turn mile.

Throw Outs

#3 Hold the Salsa – This nice New York-bred who has won 3 of 6 starts; the only issue is that two of those losses were non-competitive efforts behind Eagle Orb. I’m not sure he can make up enough ground to make an impact in this spot. 

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